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Micra's digging for power; Nissan Micra 1.2 DIG-S Shiro.

Byline: MIKE TORPEY

* ISSAN is hoping supermini fans will give derv a swerve and dig in to some seriously frugal petrol power. As car manufacturers everywhere seek to lower emissions and improve fuel economy without a cost to performance, the Japanese maker has pulled out a trump card.

Their ace comes in the shape of a new 1.2-litre engine called DIG-S, which stands for Direct Injection Gasoline - Supercharged, and boasts the punch of a larger unit but with diesel-like economy.

Its arrival in the latest generation Micra is part of an ongoing plan from Nissan which has seen the brand wholeheartedly embrace petrol power.

So mindful of the fact that choosing diesel cars was more expensive both in the showroom and at the pumps, the Japanese company opted to axe oil-burning versions of the Micra.

Instead there is now a simple drivetrain choice - a three-cylinder 1.2-litre petrol engine mated to either a five-speed manual or continuously variable CVT transmission and producing 80bhp, or the 98bhp DIG-S. The new engine doesn't exactly give the Nissan blistering pace, as 0-62 in 11.3 seconds confirms, but its average fuel figure of almost 66mpg is terrific. And CO2 emissions of 99g/km mean zero road tax.

The cost of opting for the new powerplant is pounds 1000 more than the equivalent non-supercharged Micra, but it does include stop/start and an 'intelligent' alternator which recharges the battery.

Nissan recently added a couple of extra trim grades called Kuro and Shiro to the Micra line-up, both based on mid-spec Acenta, and the tested model featured the latter - which means white in Japanese.

It comes with an ivory-effect dashboard and white seats that may add a plush look but isn't recommended if you have kids.

Overall though there's ample headroom and reasonable rear space for two adults plus a child. That's half decent for a car of this size and while the boot is tiny the rear seats split, fold and tumble to open up a larger load area.

The dashboard has a twin bubble theme which matches the circular instrument binnacle with a similarly shaped glovebox ahead of the passenger. There's also a plasticky upper storage area Smarter features include a neat bag holder incorporated into the front passenger seat to prevent bags rolling around the cabin when the car is on the move.

Every car comes with electric power steering, six airbags, electric front windows, Bluetooth phone integration and ESP as standard.

Shiro adds 15-inch alloy wheels, climate control air-con and cruise control, parking sensors with parking space measurement and heated front seats.

And optional is a pounds 400 Nissan Connect set-up which combines touch screen sat-nav with Bluetooth and audio streaming plus Aux-in and USB slots and six speakers.

SpecCheck MAKE: Nissan MODEL Micra 1.2 DIG-S Shiro ENGINE: 1,198cc, 3-cyl petrol POWER: 98bhp @ 5,600rpm PERFORMANCE: 0-62 in 11.3 secs, top speed 112mph ECONOMY: 54.3mpg Urban, 76.3 Extra Urban, 65.7 Combined CO2 EMISSIONS: 99g/km BiK RATING: 10% INSURANCE: Group 9 PRICE: pounds 12,550 on the road WHAT'S HOT: Economy, style, green credentials WHAT'S NOT: Some cheap interior plastics RATINGS (out of five): LOOKS ............................ 3 EQUIPMENT ..................... 4 RIDE AND HANDLING . . . . . . . . 4 PERFORMANCE ................. 4 VALUE FOR MONEY ........... 4

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GIVING DERV A SWERVE: The new Nissan Micra 1.2 DIG-S model Info from Nissan Liverpool, Sefton Street, L8 6PZ. Tel : 0151 790 0150
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 23, 2012
Words:570
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